Thursday, November 15, 2012

A study of Ephesians 1:1-10

This is not a sermon (though it may will turn into one someday), this is just my thoughts and connections as I study the letter to the church at Ephesus.  The words in black print are Bible verses   from the American Standard Version.  Words in green are my thoughts on the scripture.

Ephesians 1  ASV

1.   Paul, (not Saul but Paul.  Not the former person but the new man.  The man remade in an instant of transformation at the moment of contact with the Son of God) an apostle (Messenger … but different from the term used for angels who are also messengers of God.  The term used here is of and emissary or ambassador.  An angel is sent to deliver the message.  Where an apostle is sent to speak for the sender.  It is a broader concept almost as if this type of messenger has also been given the ‘power of attorney’ by the sender.) of Christ (The anointed one.  In Hebrew, the Messiah.  Christ is a title not part of his name.  It literally recognizes Jesus as King in the same way that David was anointed King by Samuel.)  Jesus through the will of God, (The will of God … this is all part of the plan that God as set in motion through his divine will.  This not a random or accidental fact that Paul is an ambassador, nor is it of his own choosing.  He is an apostle because God re-created him as his emissary.)  to the saints (not Saint with a capital S.  Paul is recognizing that he is not speaking to non-believers but to those who are believers in the Lordship of Jesus.) that are at Ephesus, and the faithful (Faith full: filled with faith.  And not just any faith but faith in the lordship/kingship of Jesus) in Christ Jesus;
2.   Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, (Paul as a good Jew and steeped in the Jewish tradition did not begin his letter with Shalom.  Shalom means peace, an all encompassing type of peace.  Peace in your family, your self, your finances, your society etc.  Instead Paul wishes his readers the blessing of grace. Grace is the love of God, freely and limitlessly given without restrictions and totally undeserved.  Obviously to Paul this grace was a much greater blessing than peace.)
3.   blessed be the God and Father (This is not the common Jewish designation of God as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.  Paul in this salutation acknowledges the singular distinction of Jesus, he is the Father’s Son.  Paul acknowledges that Jesus is more than a prophet, more than a teacher, more than a healer, more than a spiritual leader more even than a king; he is recognizing the divinity of Jesus and he wants audience to understand that special distinction.)  of our Lord Jesus Christ, (Again, Paul is recognizing that both he and his readers belong to Jesus.  They are servants and He is Lord.) who hath blessed (divinely favored or favored by God) us with every spiritual blessing (Paul is not discounting earthly blessing but he is about to enumerate the more important spiritual blessings and doesn’t want his readers to start mentally cataloging earthly blessings such as health, wealth, etc.) in the heavenly places in Christ:
4.   even as he chose us (Remember Christ himself reminded his followers that they did not choose him but that he had chosen them.  As I am writing this, it is the day before a national election where we will choose our next president.  We will choose the person who will be the recognized leader of our government for the next four years.  Not everyone who goes into the voting booth will choose the person who will win the election.  Some will cast the ballot for a different candidate.  In this election we can reject as well as choose.  Not so with Christ.  He chose.  We did not.) in him before the foundation of the world, (As John said at the beginning of his gospel, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  The same was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through him; and without him was not anything made that hath been made.”) that we should be holy (Dedicated or devoted to the service of God.) and without blemish (By Jewish law nothing that is blemished, spotted, defective in anyway may be dedicated to God.  Since “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God”, it is only through the redeeming transformational power of Jesus that we can be seen as ‘without blemish’ before God.  Jesus is better than Clearasil, Oil of Olay, or Neutrogena.  Amen?) before him in love: (dedicated in love … not dedicated out of fear, or duty … not dedicated as an exchange for favors.  We are dedicated in love as a sacrifice pleasing to God.)
5.   having foreordained (We are non-denominational so I’m going to sidestep all arguments fore or against Calvin’s understanding of these terms of ‘foreordained’ and ;predestined’ and just say that they mean appointed beforehand) us unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto himself, (Paul as a Jew was not claiming his birthright as a ‘son of Abraham and inheritor of the promise of God’.  He was acknowledging that, through Jesus, Jew and Non-Jew had both been adopted into the family of God.  This was a vastly more important relationship than being a son of Abraham) according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved: (Again Paul is saying that is all the will of God, a gift, unearned and purchased by Jesus.)
6.   in whom we have our redemption (redemption requires a price.  We have said and believe that our salvation is a gift, however it free to us only because Jesus paid the price of our sin, of our rebellion against the will of God.) through his blood, (this is the price, His blood in exchange for ours.  One day during communion we received the bread and dipped it into the chalice of juice and as I removed the bread, I automatically held my other hand under it to catch the drip.  And drip it did, right into the center of my palm.  As I looked at the round dot of red, my heart was broken, once again by the realization of the depth of Jesus’ and the Father’s love for me.) the forgiveness of our trespasses, (Trespass is such a gentle word.  We have just wandered into a place where we did not belong. At times in my life maybe what I did was trespass.  However there were also times that I SINNED!  I was willfully disobedient to the will and law of God.  In those times when I just stepped off the path, a gentle nudge was all I needed to get me back into the will of God.  But there were times that took off running, jumping fences, scaling walls and kicking down doors as I ran from God.  I deserved a whack upside the head, to be shackled and thrown into the pit.  However, God gave to me ((and you)) … according to the riches of his grace.
7.   which he made to abound toward us (Grace that comes not in a trickle but a flood.  An overwhelming, all engulfing outpouring of grace.  A grace that doesn’t just hide our sins it completely removes them.) in all wisdom and prudence,
8.   making known unto us the mystery of his will, (The mystery of His will?  Did you realize that God gave more than ten laws to Moses?  Orthodox Jews follow all 613 in the law of Moses.  God certainly never intended his will to be a mystery.  He tried repeatedly to make his will known to us.  It was only man’s hard heartiness that made his will a mystery to us.
9.   according to his good pleasure which he purposed in him
unto a dispensation of the fullness of the times, to sum up all things in Christ, the things in the heavens, and the things upon the earth; in him, (Bless you Paul for that image, “sum up all things in Christ”.  Did you just hear Paul say, “Jesus is the answer?”  Imagine a balance sheet; on one side is everything … everything ever … past, present and future … everything, add them altogether and on the other side of the = sign is Jesus.  “All things were made through him; and without him was not anything made that hath been made.” John 1:3.) 

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